No surprises that my spelling and/or grammar hasn’t improved, but you get what I mean!
Before you get a car, there are a few different ways to get around…
1. The bus – there appears to only be two routes round Dubai and neither come near my house.
2. The metro – their version of a tube, but more like a monorail. It is one route and goes from kind of near my apartment (AED10 in a cab away) and does have a stop near the office. Not bad. AED4.10 per ride between them both, and you can pay daily or get a card – a bit like an Oyster Card for London travel.
3. The Taxi… keep reading…
Taxis (I need to look this up shortly as it is bugging me!) are readily available. All you have to do is walk out onto the street and you can catch one. They will literally stop anywhere, and will happily cause an accident to do so! Unfortunately this isn’t a joke. They are insane.
Cab ride #1 was from my apartment to work last Thursday. I was going into the office to meet everyone and have lunch with the HR lady – who turns out to be the Office Manager.
I walk down to the street and hail one straight away. Excellent! That is pretty much where the good news ended.
I was clinging onto my seatbelt and the seat for dear life as he swerved, minus any form of indication, in and out of 6 lanes of traffic at a terrifying speed. To give him credit, there was only a couple of times he nearly caused an accident. The other issue was that he wouldn’t turn the aircon on as it used too much petrol. Blugh.
I arrived at the office revoltingly hot and like I had just stepped off a white knuckle ride… no, strike that… I had just stepped off a white knuckle ride and looked like it too!
That was nothing compared to my anger at Cab Ride #2.
After lunch at the Dubai Mall with the Office Manager, I spent a good couple of hours ambling around exploring. (For my thoughts on that see “OMG – this isn’t just a Mall!” shortly to follow!)
After I had seen as much as I could take in, I went and found me another taxi. Something should have set alarm bells in my head when taxi-man was reversing back through a one way system in the mall parking lot in order to pick up the fare. But, being exhausted and jet lagged, I ignored my gut instinct and got in.
I gave him the address of where I was going and he kept babbling on about being late to bring the taxi back. I had received advice from M that I should ignore all attempts at conversation for safety’s sake, and so ignored him. After a couple of minutes he is rambling away on his cel phone, whilst swerving in and out of the 6 lanes of traffic. Then he slows down. Then he pulls over. Then I get ready for an awesome argument!
Turns out that if he doesn’t get his taxi back to the company by a certain time he will receive a very hefty fine. I did point out that it was his problem, not mine, and if he had been running so late maybe he should not have tried to be greedy and take one last fare. So he gets all uppity and then tells me to get out and get into the cab that has just pulled in behind him. I refuse because I am not going to get into a cab with another passenger, especially not a man. So we argue a lot more, and I eventually get out (without paying him because by this point I am super angry) and plan to walk back to the bus stop and hail another cab from there. It was only about 300yards down the road so not so bad.
Just as I am doing so, the passenger gets out of the other taxi and explains to me that we are to swap cabs as he is heading closer to the taxi office type place and his driver is just starting his shift so will be able to make the “long” journey to my building. I think this is a fair idea, so get in the other car.
Thus starts Cab Ride #3.
He didn’t kick me out, but we had to have words because he was cross that I had not paid his friend. It was an argument that I won, but only after threatening not to pay him too. Low, I know, but I was seriously pissed off !
We start the white knuckle ride all over but this time with the added advantage of the driver not watching the roads. He was too busy staring at me through the rear view mirror (lippy mirror, girls!). I had been warned this could happen, but after near miss number 2, I told him off. He improved, but I am not sure that I had made him watch the road intently… well, I know I hadn’t given that I could paint a picture of his eyes perfectly despite only looking forward a couple of times.
The reason I was looking out of the window to the side more than looking straight ahead is that I was trying to give off the “do not even think about messing with me” vibes that I had been advised to use. I need to work on this area, which I know most of you will find stunning and rather confusing, but in my defense, I was wearing sunglasses so he didn’t get the full effect of my ice maiden stare!
He was a fairly youngish chap, but I couldn’t hazard a guess as to which nationality. Not Indian or the like though. Too fair skinned and too tall. Anyway, with his rather dreadful English (although better than any of my attempts at a second language to give credit where it is due!), I think he thought it was a good idea to try and chat. Again, keeping M’s advice in my head, I gave very curt and short answers. Also, thanks to Mum’s obsessive reading of my tourist books, I had already put a ring on my “ring finger” so I just referred to “my husband”. For example:
Q: You live Dubai.
A: My husband and I do.
Q: You English.
A: We are.
Q: This your living?
(ok, so no mention of “my husband” on that last one but I figured I didn’t need a stalker to my building!)
So, with that cab ride over, I was dreading my next. And for good reason.
Cab Ride #4 was from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. I hailed the taxi from outside of my building (praying it wasn’t any of my previous drivers!) and finally, after half an hour, got in the cab with the most un-chatty driver ever. I was very relieved. He also didn’t drive too badly. I was starting to think that this may be the turning point for my taxi experiences… when we arrived at Yas Island (see another post that I haven’t decided on the name for yet for further information!).
We needed the Rotana Hotel. I was in good time as I was due to be meeting friends at 6pm and it was only 5.30pm.
I apparently had started to count my chickens too early.
Firstly, the driver hadn’t been to Yas Island before. If he had told me that at the start, I would have waited for another taxi. Also, the police had sectioned off a lot of the roads and closed others for the concert that night (see: “The Man, The Legend” for further information!) and so not only were we lost, but we were driving around in circles. I started to lose my temper again.
After approaching the same point for the third time, I wound down my windows and told the policeman that we were going to the Hotel and that we needed to go straight on. He moved the cones and we did. Why the driver couldn’t have managed this when they both spoke Arabic, I really don’t know.
This was not the end of this muppets ability to get lost on a straight road. We tried another 3 times to get people to tell us where we were going. Again, it took me to ask for directions and explain to the driver where to go, for us to eventually get there. I don’t think he was the sharpest tool in the box.
By this point it was 6.10pm.
By this point I had more than had enough.
The fare was AED180 and so I gave him AED150 and got out. I had asked repeatedly for him to hold the meter as we were driving around and pulling over for information, and he didn’t. I was late, hot and angry. I did feel a bit bad, until I told the girls that I was meeting and they agreed it was the best course of action!!
Cab Rides #5 and #6 were uneventful as they were back and forward to the concert venue, as was cab journey #6 which was less than 5 minutes.
Even so, I can not wait to get my own transport again!